RSS
Chris Kelly dies at 34: Music icons eulogize the Kriss Kross rapper
"To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trendsetting, backwards pants-wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music"
 
Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly (right) was one-half of Kris Kross.
Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly (right) was one-half of Kris Kross. Michael Benabib/Retna Ltd./Corbis

Chris Kelly, the rapper best known as "Mac Daddy" and one half of the 90s rap duo Kriss Kross, whose "Jump" was one of the decade's most enduring hits, has died in Atlanta at age 34. Police are treating the death as a possible drug overdose. The news was confirmed in an official statement from So So Def Records, co-signed by Chris Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte:

It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1. To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trendsetting, backwards pants-wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music. But to us, he was just Chris — the kind, generous and fun-loving life of the party. Though he was only with us a short time, we feel blessed to have been able to share some incredible moments with him. His legacy will live on through his music, and we will forever love him. (via All Hip Hop)

In addition to the official statement, So So Def Records founder Jermaine Dupri — who discovered the duo as preteens in an Atlanta shopping mall, and served as the sole producer on their 1992 debut album Totally Crossed Out — posted an open "Letter to the Fans":

To the world Chris was MacDaddy but to me, he was a son I never had. As much as you may think I taught him, he taught me. God has blessed me to be in the presence of so many naturally talented people, and Chris was one. His understanding of what we set out to do, from day one was always on point. His passion for the music, his love for doing shows, his want to [be] better than everyone else, was always turnt up. When I think about it, I spent more time with Chris and chris than damn near anybody in my whole life, so you can imagine how bad this hurts. [Vibe]

Read the rest of the letter at Vibe.

Chris Smith, the other member of Kriss Kross, who performed under the moniker "Daddy Mac," paid tribute in a statement: 

Chris Kelly was my Best Friend. He was like a brother. I love him and will miss him dearly. Our friendship began as little boys in first grade. We grew up together. It was a blessing to achieve the success, travel the world and entertain Kris Kross fans all around the world with my best friend. It is what we wanted to do and what brought us happiness. I will always cherish the memories of the C-Connection" [E! Online]

Read the rest of the statement at E! Online.

A wide range of other musicians and music industry representatives have also tweeted condolence messages:

Teddy Riley, who toured with Kriss Kross:

Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun:

And less than 24 hours after Kelly's death was confirmed, at least one artist had already performed a musical tribute. At a show in St. Louis on Wednesday night, Deftones frontman Chi Moreno eulogized Kelly before launching into a metal cover of "Jump":

(via Spin)

 
Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The AtlanticPOLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week